Small businesses face a unique set of challenges when it comes to hiring – and retaining – top talent as they compete with larger companies with more resources and established brand names. Those challenges can become even more daunting for small businesses aiming to attract top talent from the millennial workforce.
Millennials continue to redefine the expectations around benefits, perks and the culture they value in their workplaces. Some things that used to be considered a “nice to have” have become a “need to have,” as Millennials emphasize a work-life balance, flexibility and employers with purpose in their job hunts.
It’s expected that 75% of the global workforce will be composed of Millennials by 2025, so it’s essential that small business owners understand how to stand out and attract Millennial talent.
Many of the benefits that Millennials have advocated for are becoming attractive to all generations of workers. So, by making your benefits offering more millennial-friendly, you’ll improve your talent approach overall.
Here’s how your small business can reach this particular generation with benefits offerings that appeal to their unique set of desires and challenges.
Student loan debt
The millennial generation is infamously straddled with student loan debt – and it’s impacting their professional and personal lives. A 2018 Boston College study found that graduates with student loans accumulate 50% less retirement wealth by age 30 – something that could drastically alter their security and comfort later in life.
Money continues to be a leading cause of stress among Americans, according to the American Psychological Association, so it’s likely the stress of student loan debt is wearing on your millennial employees, too.
Employers have started to step up to the plate to help. In fact, from 2018 to 2019, the number of employers who now provide this benefit has doubled, according to the Society of Human Resources Management. Whether you’re able to offer a repayment assistance plan or repayment bonuses, any type of student debt assistance benefit can give your small business a competitive boost if you’re looking to hire members of this debt-laden generation.
Debt assistance not possible? Consider that many millennials are now parents themselves and are likely intimidated by the prospect of saving for the rising cost of college. An employer-matched 529 savings plan for employees is another way to show them you are invested in their (and their families’) futures – so they can relieve debt for their next generation.
In addition to dealing with debt, millennials came of age during a recession – so this generation values financial security and overall financial wellness and literacy.
While individualized options are great for tailoring investing and retirement planning to an individual’s goals, these additional options can also make the selection process that much more overwhelming.
Small businesses can show candidates and employees that their overall financial wellness is a priority by empowering them with educational tools and programs that foster financial literacy and help them make smart investing decisions for their futures. These programs can come in many forms, such as one-on-one coaching with an advisor or educational workshops.
Incorporating financial literacy into your employee benefits package doesn’t have to be formal (or expensive). Beyond a formalized program, you can also tap into your existing service providers to ensure you’re utilizing all of your resources without hindering your bottom line. Your benefits provider can and should be a resource that you go to when it comes to financial education for your employees.
Many providers often offer free, on-site workshops that can be conducted via an informal “lunch and learn” series or presentations for employees. Employees who understand their benefits options fully are more likely to choose the plan that is the best fit for them.
Large organizations might run into roadblocks when implementing flexible work policies for their entire employee base. But as a small business, offering employees autonomy and flexibility is often easy – and it’s a great way to stand out against your bigger competitors in the war for talent.
Your small business can empower employees by actively supporting work-life balance, such as remote work, flexible workdays or unlimited PTO, which prioritizes the employee’s needs and illustrates your trust in their judgment and ability to manage themselves.
Showing your employees you trust them cultivates a sense of autonomy and responsibility among your workforce and, as a secondary bonus, can actually help improve efficiencies within your business. And millennials appreciate an employer that shows them they’re trusted – so offering this benefit is often a win-win for both parties!
Offering these benefits are great for getting top millennial talent through your doors. But in order to keep them there, you need to continuously meet them where they are – which is, more often than not, on their smartphones.
In order to take advantage of the great benefits you have in place, employees need to know what they’re offered and how to enroll and participate – so user-friendly technology and communication are both key.
Millennials are a technology-first generation, and your HR and benefits processes should reflect this. When implemented correctly, benefits technology has the power to make selections streamlined and efficient. If you’re still using pen and paper to enroll employees, check with your provider about online enrollment options.
Online enrollment allows employees to easily shift through the increasingly personalized options, enabling them to feel confident that they’re making the best selections.
Technology can also make it easier for employees to check in on their benefits (e.g., look at how many PTO days they have remaining or check the balance of their child’s 529 account), as mobile options will allow them to engage with their benefits providers directly and on the go.
Remember: Not all hiring strategies have to be costly or resource-intensive, but choosing the right benefits for your target recruits can make all the difference between losing out on top talent to bigger fish and finding all-star employees who are equally as invested in your business as you are.